Letter from Private Henry W. Lindergreen of the 1st Minnesota Regiment, Company H, to Ignatius Donnelly. The letter also includes descriptions of Professor Lowe’s balloon (see June 1st entry), the three week old battlefields at Fair Oaks and Seven Pines, the Richmond and York River Railroad, Parrot guns in the breastworks, battles at Savage Station, and destroying ammunition during the Union retreat that concluded McClellan’s Peninsula Campaign.
“In camp near James River, Virginia July 7th 1862.
Dear Friend Donnelly, I received your kind and welcome letter yesterday, and I assure you in the language of a Southerner “it done me right smart of good.” I am glad you and Mrs. Donnelly like my letters so well, for it encourages me to try and do better next time. I have not heard from John OBryan, since we left Fair Oaks, but I will try and hunt him up as soon as I can. I am glad to hear that the Aid Society is doing so well. no, I shall try and keep “Secesh” bullets out of my body, I do not care much for solid shot but as the irishman “say’s” that rotton shot that breaks all to pieces is what I hate, he meant shell, they are ugly customers. Capt. Adams sends his compliments to you, also Lieut. Searles, Mars, Mead. Capt. Pell I do not see very often, he being Provost Guard for this division. I may take part of your advice[;] I may take the 106 acres, but perhaps it would not be so easy to take the buxom girl, as it always takes two to make a bargain, and you know I am not good looking. When you go down home again, tell Mrs. Donnelly to write me a few lines about Nininger affairs if nothing more. I am glad to see in the papers, the announcement that you will probably be put up as a candidate for Congress, because I know if you are nominated, you will surely be elected. but let me ask you a question[:] what has become of Aldrich[?] does he not go into the field again[?] it is rather funny about Matthew Miller and Andrew Murray[:] so they were caught fighting against the Old flag, I should think they would feel very nice, penned up in Chicago. well, “the way of the transgressor is hard”[.] I am glad emigration is coming into the state[,] for it is better for everybody, the loss of the Regiment in killed wounded and missing since last Sunday is 80, 6 killed, and poor Kendall is supposed to be one of the latter, but I hope and pray it may turn out not to be so. […]
it is my trip to the right and left of the line as we lay at Fair Oak’s. Take my arm and we will sally forth. it is a fine bright morning, the 15th Day of June, and I wish to visit my cousin, James Lewis, of the Michigan Sharp-Shooters belonging to Porters Division (on our right)[.] we start from our Company quarters, just after eating a hearty breakfast of baked beans, first “obtaining leave of absence” from the captain, we pass along in rear of the breastworks of “Fort Sully”[,] which now presents quite a formidable appearance, mounting twelve, twenty pounders and three large Napolean Howitzers (gor grape and canister) by the quarters of Col. Sully and gen. Gorman, till we come to the camp of what is calle the “Crack Volunteer Regt. of theWar” (the 20th New York or “Max Webbers German Turners,”) which by the way is not a bit better than the 15th Massachusetts or the First Minnesota[.] they are in Smith’s Division; breastworks run the whole length of the line, until we get to the Chickahominy River[.] just before reaching the river we find a substantial looking Fort, mounting three guns, it is named Fort Brook’s, everything appears quiet, and we pass on to the Pontoon bridge, which crosses the Chickahominy at this point[.] arriving on the opposite side[,] a large piece of swamp or bottom land has to be crossed; soon we come to a fine hilly country, as we ascend the hill, we enjoy a fine landscape view of the country off towards Richmond[.] the smoke of the Rebel camp-fires can be seen distinctly, and ever and anon the sharp crack of a rifle, and the peculiar whistle of the bullett, tells us that the pickets are on the alert […]“
Citation: July 7, 1862 Letter from Henry W. Lindergreen to Lieutenant Governor Ignatius Donnelly, Correspondence June-July 10, 1862. Ignatius Donnelly and family papers, 1812-1973. Minnesota Historical Society.